The Allahabad High Court on Thursday observed that dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar could not be held guilty of killing their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj just because they were present in their house when the murders took place in 2008 -- a verdict that ended a nine-year ordeal of the parents who were found guilty by a court in 2013.
Justices B.K. Narayana and Arvind Kumar Mishra said in their judgment that the circumstantial evidence provided by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was insufficient to prove that the Talwars were guilty, giving the couple, serving life terms awarded by a special court, the benefit of doubt.
Stating that the basic legal tenet was that an accused is innocent until proven guilty, the judges said: "The CBI has not provided the court with evidences that prove beyond doubt that they were guilty. In such cases, even the Supreme Court, in the absence of proper facts and proof, doesn't give such harsh punishments.
"The parents cannot be held guilty just because they were present in the house when the murder took place. They should get the benefit of doubt. They are being set free in this case."
The court order also negated the CBI court's observation that since Talwars were the only people present in the house at the time of the murder, the burden of furnishing satisfactory proof of their innocence lay with them.
Following the court order, Aarushi's aunt Vandana Talwar said the 9-year journey since her niece's death was a struggle.
"It was emotionally draining... We are tired. We thank the court for correcting the injustice. The relief by the Allahabad High Court ended the injustice meted out to Rajesh and Nupur. We are happy we can now move forward. At this point, we want to thank all those who did not even know us but supported us - emotionally, physically. Some even supported us financially."
The Talwars, who have been describing their portrayal in the media as a witch-hunt, were accused of killing their daughter after they saw her in a compromising position with Hemraj. The allegation was first made by Uttar Pradesh Police and later repeated by the CBI but there was no no evidence to substantiate the premise.